It was more a matter of Warren's trust -- the Blue Devils' trust in each other on the court -- than Grayslake North's rust.
Having to play red-hot Warren Wednesday night was a tough task for a Grayslake North girls basketball team that hadn't played a game in three weeks. The result was almost predictable, despite the nonconference game being a battle of teams with spiffy won-lost records.
Warren bolted to an early lead behind junior stars Kaylen Dickson and Jordyn Hughes, got a boost from senior Rebekah Foley in the third quarter and cruised to a 61-35 win.
"Our plan was to come out with a lot of energy," said Blue Devils guard Nefeli Papadakis, who grabbed 4 of her 6 rebounds in the opening quarter.
Dickson (8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) and Hughes (6 steals, 4 boards) each scored 16 points, as Warren improved to 14-3 in winning its seventh game in a row. Blue Devils coach John Stanczykiewicz gave his players five days off after they won their own tournament and then held a 2½-hour practice Tuesday.
"So you always wonder how they're going to come out of the gate, and I'm really happy with the way we played tonight," Stanczykiewicz said. "I thought we had great energy, I thought we played well together offensively, and I thought defensively we played very well."
Grayslake North, which last played on Dec. 13 (a win over Barrington), fell to 9-3.
"You can practice all you want, but that's a really good (Warren) team, no matter what time of year you play them," Grayslake North coach Rob Nicoletti said. "They're tough. They played really well. They shot the ball well, too."
Grayslake North never recovered from spotting Warren a 9-0 lead just more than two minutes into the game. When Hughes fed a wide-open Dana Lundtveit under the basket for an uncontested layup with 5:47 left in the first quarter, Nicoletti burned his first timeout.
Sidney Lovitsch finally got the home team on the board with a three-point play with 5:35 to go.
"They came out firing and, defensively, we just weren't good enough tonight," Nicoletti said. "Before the break, that was one of the things that we were doing really well. We were defending well. We were holding teams to under 40 points. They have a lot of girls who can score the basketball, and we learned that pretty early."
At half, Warren was up 34-14 after closing with a 7-0 run that started with a 3-pointer by Dickson, who was being scouted again by Wake Forest.
Papadakis spent a good part of the game after the first quarter defending Lovitsch, whose 8 points matched that of teammate Savannah Guenther (two 3-pointers).
"I've been playing against (Lovitsch) since we were little girls in feeder," Papadakis said. "So I'm used to it. I was comfortable guarding her. I'm more used to guarding point guards and people that just speed-dribble off the ball. I think that helped me."
Lovitsch sank only 2 baskets but got to the line often. The problem for the Saint Xavier-bound guard was that she hit just 4 of 10 free throws.
"We picked up a couple of fouls early, but Lovitsch is a handful," Stanczykiewicz said. "She's a very talented player."
Foley finished with 13 points and also had a pair of blocks. She scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers, in the third in helping Warren extend its lead to 51-28 entering the final quarter.
"We're an older, more experienced team," Stanczykiewicz said. "I think (the players) handled things the right way over the last week."